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440 DIRECTIONS AND PERSUASIONS and make thy choice according to the light and convictions which thou hast received. When you are thinking of the reasons that should move you to be converted, ask yourselves, Whether these reasons be not clear, and what you have to say against them? And whether any thing that can be said to the contrary, can prove it better for you to be as you are, and to remain unconverted? Ask yourselves, Is my judgment resolved, or is it not? And if it be, (as sure it must be, if you be not beside yourselves,) then write it down under your hands, or at least in your hearts: 'I do here confess before, the Lord, that his commands are just, his motions are reasonable, his offers are exceeding merciful: I am satisfied that it is best for ine to turn to him speedily, and with all my heart: I confess before him, that I have no reason to the contrary that deserves to be owned and called reason: this is my own judgment; of this I am convinced. If I turn not after this, the light that is in me, and the judgment that I now possess, must needs be a witness against my soul.' If you would but thus drive on the case to a resolution of your judgments, you would have a great advantage for the resolving of your wills; which is the next thing that you must proceed to. And therefore next ask yourselves, Why should I not now resolve, and fixedly resolve, to turn without any more delay? Is not the case plain before me? What reason have I to stand questioning the matter any longer, and to be unwilling to be happy? Shall I provoke God by dallying with him, and hazard iny soul by lingering out my time, in such a miserable state? No: by the grace of God I will return even this hour, without any more delay. Thus drive on all your consideration to resolution.
By this time you may see of what necessity this duty of consideration is, and how it must be performed, that it may further your conversion : but because it is a matter of so great necessity, I am loth to leave it thus, till I have done what I can to persuade you to the
practice of it. To which end I entreat you to think of these following motives.
1. Consideration is a duty that you may perform if you will. You cannot say that it is wholly out of your power; so that you are left inexcusable, if you will not be persuaded to it. You say, you cannot convert yourselves : but cannot you set yourselves to consider of your ways, and bethink you of those truths that must be the instruments of your conversion? Your thoughts are partly at the command of your will: you can turn them up and down from one thing to another. Even an unsanctified minister, that hath no saving relish of spiritual things, can think of them, that he may preach them to others; and why cannot you then turn your thoughts to them for yourselves? You can think of house and land, and friends and trading, and of any thing that aileth you, or any thing that you want, or any thing that you love, or think would do you good: and why cannot you think of your sin and danger, of God, and of his word and works, of the state of your souls, and of everlasting life? Are you not able to go sometimes by yourselves, and consider of these matters? Are you not able, when you are alone in your beds, or as you travel in the way, or at your labour, to bethink you how things stand with your souls? Why are you not able? What is it that could hinder you, if you were but willing?
2. Yea, further, consideration is so cheap a remedy, that if you will not use this, you despise your souls; yea, and you despise the Lord himself, and the everlasting things which you are called to consider of. A man that is in danger of losing his estate, or health, or life, and will not so much as bethink him of a remedy, doth sure set light by them, and lose them by his contempt. A man that had but his house on fire, and would not so much as think how to quench it, doth deserve that it should be burnt. If your parents, or children, or friends, were in distress, if you would not so much as think of them, it were a sign that you did not set much by them. Why, sirs, are not your souls worth the thinking on? Is not God, is not your Redeemer, worth the thinking on? And yet you will hypocritically pretend that you love God above all, when you will not so much as seriously think of him. How can you show greater contempt of any thing, than to cast it out of your minds as unworthy to be thought on? And how can you more plainly shew that you despise God and heaven, than by such a course as this? If it be not worth thinking on, it is worth nothing.
3. Consider that God doth not set so lightly by your salvation. He thought it worth a great deal more. Must Christ think it worth his bloody sufferings, and worth such a life of labour and sorrow; and will you not judge it worth your serious consideration? If he had not thought on it, and thought again, how miserable should we have remained! Ministers also must think on it, and study how to save your souls. And should you not study how to save your own ? Must another man make it the business of his life to think how to do you good, that you may be saved ; and are you not as much bound to do good to yourselves? Yea, all that fear God about you are bound to study to do you good; and should you not bethink you then of the things that concern your own good ?
4. Moreover, what have you your reason for, but to consider? And wherein do you differ from the beasts, so much as in your reason? If you have reason, and will not use it, you brutify yourselves; you live like madmen: for what is madness, but a loss of the use of reason? And do you think it a small thing to deface so noble a creature as man, and to turn yourselves into beasts, and madmen? Do you think that God will not call you to account for your reason, how you have used it? Doubtless he gave it you for a higher employment, than to enable you to plow and sow, and follow your trades, and provide for your flesh. If this were all that a man did
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exceed a beast in, what a silly wretched wight were man! Yea, so much more miserable than the beasts, as his knowledge begets more care, and sorrow, and fear, than theirs. What inatter is it for having reason at all, if it be not that we may use it for the matters of God, and eternal life?
5. Moreover, your soul is an active principle, which will be working one way or other; your thoughts will be going on one thing or other; and therefore the bare consideration is no great labour tot you. And if you must lay out your thoughts on something, is it not better to lay them out on these things than on any other? Have you any better matters to think on than these? Have you any greater matters, or matters of greater necessity, to think of? You cannot sure imagine it; at least you will not say 80, for shame. This makes your inconsiderateness an inexcusable sin. If thinking were a toil to you, it were another matter. But when you must think of something, why not of God, and your eternal state, and the way to heaven, as well as of other matters? Will you rather throw away your thoughts than God shall have them? If a man command his servant that is lame to go on his business, the refuser hath a good excuse: I cannot go, or not without great pain and danger. But if he have a son, or a servant, that is so wanton that he cannot stand on his legs, but spends his time in running up and down, and dancing, and leaping; this person hath no excuse, if he will refuse to go on his inaster's or his father's errand, but will gad about on his pleasure all day, and will not go a few steps when he is hidden; especially if it were for his own life or welfare. So, when you have thoughts that will not be kept idle, but will be gadding abroad through the world, and yet you will not think of God, and the matters of your peace, what wilfulness is this! If you should ask one that hath it not, for meat or drink, or money, they might well deny you. But if you ask these of one that hath abundance, and knows not what to do with them, but would throw
them down the channel rather than you should have them, what would you think of such a one? especially if it were your servant or your child, that owed you much more?—Thus do you by God and your own souls. You have thoughts enough and to spare, you know not what to do with them; and yet rather than you will spend one hour in a day or a week, in serious thoughts of the state of your souls, and the life to come, you will cast them away upon news and tales, and other people's business, that do not concem you; yea, you will cast them down the sink of covetousness, and malice, and lust, and wantonness, and make them servants to the devil and the Aesh.If you have a brook running by your land, you will endeavour to turn it over your ground, that seeing it must run, it may as well run that way where it may do good, as run in vain. So when your thoughts must run, is it not better that you turn them to your own hearts and states, to prepare for the world that you are ready to step into, than to let them run in vain? If you see a man go into a wine cellar, (though it be his own,) and pull out all the spiggots, and let all the wine run about the cellar, and suffer nobody to catch it, or be the better for it, what would you conceive of the wisdom and charity of that man?Your thoughts are a thing inore precious than wine, and such a thing as should not be spilt. And yet is not this your every day's practice? You are before Him that knows your thoughts: deny it if you can. What hour of the day can a man come to you, and find your thoughts altogether idle? What minute of an hour can a man come and ask you, What are you now thinking on? And can you truly say, Nothing? I know, as long as you are awake, you are always thinking of somewhat; and perhaps when you are asleep.. And what is it on? This body shall have a thought, and that body a thought; every word you hear, and every wrong that is done you, and almost every thing you look upon, shall have a thought: but God and your own salvation shall have none; that is,